The families challenging a council over a lack of school places for children with special needs

A group of Bedfordshire parents are raising concerns over a lack of school places for children with special educational needs.

Maddie Robert's son Harley has ADHD and autism and struggles to cope in school. For the last few years attendance has been bad or non-existent. Maddie feels not enough has been done to give him the education he needs and deserves.

Maddie says her case is not unusual Credit: ITV News Anglia
One parent told ITV News Anglia that they were 'shocked' by what they heard at the meeting Credit: ITV News Anglia

A special meeting arranged by Central Bedfordshire Council has been taking place looking at issues for funding over special educational needs provision. 

The meeting comes after the Ombudsman upheld a complaint that Central Bedfordshire council failed to provide alternative education for a boy unable to attend school for medical reasons.

Key recommendations from the report include

  • ensuring pupils out of school for medical reasons receive suitable education, preferably full time. 

  • Increasing the supply of home tuition services.

  • To review all cases of pupils out of school since the start of lockdown to ensure faults have not occurred in other cases.

Some of the parents-including Maddie- who attended the council meeting Credit: ITV News Anglia

While the meeting focussed on a report about failing related to one child, Maddie was one of a handful of parents who attended who claim the issues go much wider.

Kelly Quirk "That was my first meeting today, and to be honest, I'm shocked by the things that they've actually told us. Because they said that they had made sure that every child has been contacted. He's not at school. My son hasn't been at school for seven months. And I haven't heard from the council." 

Maddie Roberts "It's just tick box and everything seemed to tick boxes for what needs to be said, what looks good on paper. But actually, the effect that it's having on families and this community is devastating for our families." 

Kelly Burley felt her family were treated with contempt Credit: ITV News Anglia

Kelly is another parent who's been affected but couldn't make the meeting today. She told ITV News Anglia "I felt my family and I'm guessing the family that were in that situation as well, I felt all the time that you were treated with contempt. It's almost like what what is the bottom? What is the lowest level of support we can give this child to, you know, to give him an education, to almost get it off of our desks?"

So what do the council have to say?

Central Bedfordshire Council say they're putting in systems to make things better. They say they're improving the quality of education, health and care plans, and making resources where parents can find out what's available to their child better as well.